Southwestern College main campus faculty and staff have achieved a 92 percent vaccination rate against COVID-19 and an additional 3 percent of staff are unvaccinated but report natural immunity after recovering from the virus.

Classes began Monday at the college and again this year Southwestern is taking precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. The college has placed particular emphasis on maximizing vaccinations in the campus community. While vaccinations are not required, they have been strongly encouraged and heavily incentivized.

The college, with the support of the City-Cowley County Health Department and Graves Drug, has hosted five vaccination clinics on campus and will host a sixth on Sept. 7. In the interim times, students are encouraged to visit either the City-Cowley Health Department, Graves Drug, or other area pharmacies to receive their vaccination and then to report their vaccination status to the college.

Vaccinated students are receiving $25 cash for reporting their vaccination and they are entered to win up to $10,000 toward their spring semester tuition, room and board.

“Currently, the percentage of students we have vaccinated surpasses the vaccination rate for Cowley County or the state of Kansas, but we are working hard to improve that rate even further — and our faculty and staff are leading the way and setting a great example,” college president Brad Andrews said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, not only does being vaccinated significantly lessen the likelihood of contracting and spreading the virus, it greatly reduces the chance of severe or sustained illness resulting from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the college continues to operate an on-campus testing center. An individual’s vaccination status reduces their likelihood of being asked to quarantine – which translates to fewer missed classes, practices, rehearsals, and more engagement on campus.

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